Should You Use Coupons in Subject Lines?

It seems like a no-brainer. Put a coupon in your email subject line and people are bound to open it. Or entice customers to submit a review of your product by offering a coupon.

Well, it’s not quite as simple as that. There is a right way and a wrong way of going about it. 

Here’s what you need to know.

Do coupons in subject lines increase email open rates?

Everyone likes a deal, not just those who need to save money. In fact, according to a study by MarketingSherpa, 92% of people earning $100,000 or more would like to receive promo emails. And in its Shoppers Trend Report, RetailMeNot found that 96 percent of Americans use coupons on a regular basis. So yes, putting coupons in email subject lines can increase email open rates—if you take these tips into consideration.

1. Keep it clear and concise.

Your email offer will not appeal to everyone, but if it’s a good enough offer, it definitely will capture the attention of anyone who wants or needs your product. By making the offer clear and simple in your subject line, you are helping readers quickly decide if the promotion applies to them or not. If it does, they can open the email. If it doesn’t, they can move on. It’s a way of showing respect for people’s time. 

2. Create a Sense of Urgency

Most coupons come with expiration dates, and there’s a reason for that. Consumers tend to value things more when they’re limited. By conveying that there are only so many products available with the coupon or that they’re only available for a short time, you are creating a sense of urgency among your audience. Many people refer to this as FOMO, or the fear of missing out, and it can be a powerful motivator. 

3. Avoid Coupon Fatigue

Because coupons in email subject lines tend to increase your open rate, it’s tempting to use this strategy often. However, that’s not a good idea.

Customers can become fatigued and start to think there’s nothing special about your coupons because they appear so often. There’s nothing unique about a sale on a product that seems to always be on sale. With too many coupon offers, your audience will start to ignore your email altogether.

4. Don’t Devalue Your Brand

Another reason to avoid running too many coupons in your email subject lines is the possibility that it could devalue your brand. If your product is on sale every week, then consumers start to think it isn’t ever worth the full price. And they will have no sense of urgency to purchase it since they know another sale is just around the corner. 

While there is no set number of times you should include coupons in your subject line, a good rule of thumb is no more than once a month—maybe even less.

Do coupons in subject lines increase review submissions?

The answer to this question is a little more cut and dried in that major review sites like Google and Yelp have strict guidelines that prohibit businesses from offering incentives for reviews. In other words, if you want your customer reviews to help your SEO, you cannot offer coupons or discounts in your email subject lines—or anywhere for that matter—as incentives for consumers to submit reviews.

When you think about it, that policy makes sense. Incentives can cause a biased review from a consumer since they are writing it based on a coupon or discount they are receiving. They aren’t submitting a review solely because they feel compelled to share their thoughts on a business or product with others. 

In short, don’t use coupons in your email subject lines in order to entice consumers to write a review.

If you are looking for the perfect way to collect reviews and avoid using incentives, check out TrustSpot’s “Review Request” that was engineered to give you the highest chance of a response from your customers. Backed by data science, TrustSpot’s emails determine the best time to send to get you more reviews. You can also capture reviews via SMS and custom forms. Get started capturing customer reviews and feedback today.

Coupon Phrases To Use in Your Email Subject Lines

Now that you know when you should (and shouldn’t) include coupons in your email subject lines, it’s helpful to know some words and phrases to use. These words will help readers know that the deal will not last forever and will encourage them to take action sooner than later.

  • Ending soon
  • Last chance
  • Final
  • 1 day left
  • Last day
  • Save 20% now 
  • Final reminder
  • Take advantage of [fill in the offer]
  • Limited time
  • Only 3 spots remain
  • Offer ends tonight
  • Don’t miss out
  • Only 2 hours left

Keep in mind that there is no tried-and-true wording that works every time for every business. It may take some experimenting for you to see which ones best capture your audience’s attention and cause them to open your email and use the coupon. And don’t be afraid to change it up with each offer. You customers will likely respond better if they aren’t reading the same phrases for each coupon offer.